What is Squamous Cell Carcinoma?
About 16% of diagnosed skin cancers are Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC). This cancer begins in the squamous cells, which are found in the upper layer of the epidermis. About 200,000 cases of SCC are diagnosed ever year. SCC tends to develop in fair-skinned middle-aged and elderly people who have had long-term sun exposure. It most often appears as a crusted or scaly area of skin with a red inflamed base that resembles a growing tumor, non-healing ulcer or crusted-over patch of skin. While most commonly found on sun-exposed areas of the body, it can develop anywhere, including the inside of the mouth and the genitalia. SCC may arise from actinic keratoses, which are dry, scaly lesions that may be skin-colored, reddish-brown or yellowish-black.
What Causes Squamous Cell Carcinoma?
- Ultraviolet light - Most of this is from sunlight. Squamous cell carcinoma is most commonly seen in fair skinned individuals who are unable to tan and is associated with an accumulated lifetime exposure to sun. PUVA (Psoralen and Ultraviolet A radiation), which is used mostly for psoriasis, causes an increased risk of squamous cell carcinomas
- Ionizing radiation such as radiotherapy may also cause an increase in skin cancers
- Chemicals such as arsenic increase the risk of these skin cancers - exposure is usually chronic and at low concentrations
- Cigarette smoking increases the risks of squamous cell carcinoma by twofold
- Human Papilloma Virus is associated with squamous cell carcinoma in the genital area as well as around the nails
Surgery is the oldest form of treating cancer and can also have an important role in diagnosing cancer. Surgery is done for many reasons, often to accomplish one or more of these goals: preventative (or prophylactic) surgery, diagnostic surgery, staging surgery, curative surgery, debulking (or cytoreductive) surgery, palliative surgery, supportive surgery and restorative (or reconstructive) surgery.
Radiation therapy is one of the three traditional primary forms of medical treatment used to treat your cancer. It may be used alone or in combination with surgery or chemotherapy, almost anywhere within your body. Innovative new techniques have evolved and are still evolving, enabling delivery of higher radiation doses to cancer cells and limited doses to your normal tissue.